The Commission taps into the wisdom of archdiocesan educators
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – They have their Catholic faith in common, but the 36 elementary schools and six high schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas are hardly cookie-cutter identical.
They are found in small towns, cities, suburbs and the urban core. They attract students from all socio-economic categories. Some are rather small, and others are packed with students.
And this diversity presents a challenge: How does the archdiocesan schools office understand what these schools need and what is the best way to support them?
The answer, according to Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools Vince Cascone, is a blast from the past.
With the help of Michael and Patty Morrisey, Catholic school counselors and leaders of the School Advancement Program, Cascone resurrected the Archdiocesan Commission on Education.
The commission held its first meeting on November 30, 2021. Its next meeting will take place on February 22.
“In a different form, it was a group that existed a few years ago under [former superintendent] Kathy O’Hara,” Cascone said. “In recent years, there has been no commission.
“I thought it was important for us to hear the voices, opinions, wisdom and knowledge of pastors, school leaders and others across the Archdiocese – to hear what is happening in their communities, so that the archdiocesan school office can have a good understanding of what is going on. what is happening on the ground and what schools need to be supported.
The commission, whose members were nominated by Cascone and confirmed by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, has more than a dozen people. These include principals, pastors, headteachers, someone from the Holy Family School of Faith, and staff from the Archdiocesan Schools Office.
The mission of the commission is to gather information, report and make recommendations.
“The goal is to gather information on best practices in schools across the Archdiocese so that the Catholic Schools Office can better respond to the needs of our local schools,” Cascone said. “Our goal is to support pastors and school leaders. We have to make sure we stay in touch with their real needs.
The schools office does this in a number of ways, and the commission is another tool in the toolbox, according to Michael Morrisey. Members of the commission are divided into four-member teams, each focusing on different things in four broad areas: Catholicity, Academics, Social-Emotional Learning, and Enrollment Management and Marketing. The teams report to the whole committee.
“By keeping our fingers on the pulse of schools, we hope to learn how to better support those schools,” Morrisey said.
Shelly Buhler, commission member and president of Hayden High School in Topeka, described a kind of synergy the commission will generate for the benefit of all schools.
“There are a lot of different issues that we can come together as a council to research,” Buhler said. “And we can resume [what we learn] to our regions, to all our individual schools and beyond. There is definite value in coming together and learning more about the issues that affect us all and how we can have stronger, highly effective Catholic schools.
Cascone expects the commission to evolve and grow. He is convinced that each member will make a valuable contribution.
“When we had our first commission meeting, I was amazed by the talent of the people who attended,” he said. “It was such a great gathering of wonderful people from across the Archdiocese.”